A Day in Cinque Terre

A rainy Sunday was the start to our second full day in Tuscany, and it wasn’t any less delightful!

I’ve seen photo after photo of these 5 coastal villages-and yet I still wasn’t prepared for how amazing they are!

When planning this adventure, I actually opted to book this Day Tour through Viator (new customers get $10 off their order when you use my link!), because it eased a lot of the transportation concerns for us. We left at 7:30 in the morning from the Santa Maria Novella Train Station on a bus and drove just short of 2 hours to La Spezia, an industrial city just at the base of the mountains leading to 5 tiny coastal villages ranging from populations of 300-3000 people.

On this trip, we visited 4 villages: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Monterosso, and Vernazza.

The weather made for some overcast photos, but I like to think they still captured the beauty of the villages and the fascination that surrounds the brightly colored buildings and blue waters.

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My favorite thing about taking tours like these, is that there is someone to guide you to the best photos and history in the area, but you also get the opportunity to explore independently and find your own gems. Plus, you’re sure to meet some interesting people-and even make some new friends!

Some of my favorite shots from this trip (PS, all of these photos were taken by Zainab and I on our iPhones!):

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When it comes to shopping, none of these villages really tickled my fancy. There are lots of small, rather pricey shops-which I’m sure ties into the whole “Population: 300” thing.

We did have an amazing blackberry tart at a small cafe in front of the ocean in Vernazza, some super strong caffe correto (espresso+grappa) in Monterosso, where I think we also found the small place that made fresh lemon slushes….and had an option to add vodka.

We added vodka, obviously.

I think moreso than anything, I was too busy taking in how beautiful and well-preserved these little villages were to get too preoccupied with the wares they offered. I saw a lot of the same kitschy and touristy trinkets and small bottles of liquor and oils that you can find most anywhere in Italy…so I stopped worrying about where to shop and what to buy and just enjoyed the ocean instead.

It’s worth noting that there is a train that goes from La Spezia into the villages. It’s very fast, and rather efficient! At the end of the day, there were at least 400 of us piled on the platform waiting for a train that was delayed over 30 minutes…and things got real. People were pushing and arguing and being rude! And it took FOREVER to get off of the train and to the meeting point with our bus because of the crowding and lack of manners!

But I had expected way more tourists and crowding, especially on a Sunday. I was pleasantly surprised at how we had a lot of room to breathe as we made our way through Cinque Terre, moreso during the first half of the day!

This trip really made me want to focus more on the Italian coast on my next trip (although I just have such a love for Florence, and will probably start/end there always), because it really is one of the most beautiful, natural wonders. Sprinkled with history and character, it really draws you into its charms!

Have you been to Cinque Terre? What were your favorite things to see and do?

Happy Travels!

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Another Whole30: Week 1 Update

Man.

Remember how I kept saying during my first Whole30 last year that I was shocked at how easy it was? How impressed I was with myself for sticking to the script and making all of my meals and throwing parties while managing to stay compliant? Remember my post about Whole30 being life changing?

Well….this round isn’t that easy. My sugar dragon is my mortal enemy. My headaches were insane the first three days. I feel super sluggish and really sleepy. I have visions of sugary treats and cheese dancing in my head.

I was actually pretty disappointed in myself. All this healthy and delicious food at my disposal, and I’ve considered throwing it all away for Del Taco? Who even AM I?

But here’s the thing: it matters more to me to look and feel good, than it does to taste that Del Taco.

That can really be hard to remember when you’re doing Whole30. Especially in the beginning, and most especially when it’s not brand new to you anymore.

I’ve been putting myself under a lot of pressure for the upcoming photo shoot at the end of June in Greece.

I have this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be captured in one of the most beautiful places in the world, accompanied by some of the most beautiful people I know (seriously, amazing people over there at The Boudoir Divas/Boucher, Inc) and I keep just feeling like I’m not….worthy.

In an effort to practice what I preach, I’m gonna take that back. I am worthy.

I. AM. WORTHY.

However, I am also human. And the human in me knows we can do and feel better. And I’m committing to Whole30 again, because the results were worth every moment of frustration for me every time I’ve done it.

My mind is clearer. I make better food choices. I feel more powerful around food and in situations where I normally turn to food for comfort. These are all really good reasons to do it, if you ask me!

So, has week 1 been a little challenging? YEAH.

Am I any stranger to a challenge? NO SIR.

Some strategies for success I’ve employed this time around?

  • I’m obsessed with Trader Joe’s Unsweetened Blueberry Pomegranate Green Tea. It’s great when I get tired of drinking water, and gives me caffeine for my night shift when needed. I quit coffee when I’m on Whole30, because I can’t do it black and don’t want to use the “cheating” of using date paste, blah blah (read…LAZY).
  • I set up my Model Meals delivery order! Use that link for $10 off of your first order! These meals are not only Whole30 in their entirety, but they are delicious and there’s a ton of variety. I have had the pleasure of meeting the founder/creator Danika Brysha…who is absolutely phenomenal in her own right. Not only is she an IMG-represented model, but she started this business from her parents garage and totally turned around her own relationship with food. She’s actually the reason I found out about Whole30 in the first place! My delivery started Sunday, 5/7 and I place my order every Sunday for delivery the following week. This is great, because it takes the stress and time of the prep and shopping somewhat out of the equation. I buy 4-5 meals and supplement them with other food in my house. Also, it takes a lot of the guess work out in terms of finding completely organic, pasture raised, grass fed meats and compliant condiments-which I find to be the most difficult and expensive part of the program, anyways
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Danika and I at the Food Freedom Forever book signing last year!

  • I’m back to journaling, and trying to be better about blogging too. I was talking to my friend Molly about Whole30 and how she also struggles, especially in the sugar department. She asked if I blog about my experience, and I thought “Why am I not more committed to this part?” If I can support someone else in their Whole30, I am happy to!

I’ll keep you all updated. I didn’t weigh myself this time, because I’m not focusing on numbers as much as focusing on how my body feels. But I’m sure I’ll see a shift from the last numbers on the scale when this round is over! After that, I have a Girls’ Weekend in Phoenix right as the round ends, and then I’m back at it until I head to Greece…where the food is fresh and delicious and relatively healthy!

Have you tried Whole30? What are your tips and tricks for staying strong and on track?

‘Til Next Time!

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A Tuscan Adventure

I got back from Italy about a week ago, and I’ve had a little trouble adjusting back to that pesky thing we call reality.

My love affair with Italy started before I can remember, largely due to my heritage being partially credited to the country. I love authentic Italian cuisine, music, and culture.

This year, I took what I learned from my trip in Fall 2015 to try to make an even better experience possible, and I’m pretty pleased with how it all worked out!

For this adventure, I scored a $668 RT flight out of LAX and right into Florence, Italy where I planned to stay. I booked this flight last October, but I was tracking the flights using Skyscanner, my favorite flight tracker/predictor site, since May!

Once my flight was locked in, I hit AirBnB to find the perfect apartment to use as my Florence launchpad for my Tuscany plans.

When I originally started planning, I didn’t even have a travel companion. But I had dates, tickets, and reservations….and faith that everything would work itself out accordingly. But of course, my amazing friend Zainab once again came through and was my travel companion!

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Zainab and I outside the Cieto Chiarli Winery in Bologna

There is truly something to be said of friends who travel together. I look forward to more adventures with her…and we will succeed in stealing Alex away with us next time!

Once all of the most important arrangements were made, I had plenty of time to “map out” an itinerary of sorts, to make the most of Florence and the surrounding areas. Last time, we spent 4 days in Rome and 3 in Florence, and I regretted not having more time in the heart of Tuscany!

Ideally, I wanted a few free days to roam the city and re-visit some of our favorite things from the last visit (which actually weren’t places, but more along the lines of specific types of potato chips and candy bars, lol), and also a few days outside of the main city exploring-there will be more involved posts for each day trip, soon!

My favorite way to book Day Tours and experiences is using Viator, a site/app that books for you via the various companies across the world to get you amazing deals on even more amazing adventures. Get $10 off anything you book when you use this link.

Some of the highlights:

Day 1: Piazzale Michelangelo…and a GELATO FESTIVAL

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Day 2: Cinque Terre

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Day 3: Exploring Firenze: Profumo Santa Maria Novella and the best dessert espresso drink!

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Day 4: Pisa, San Gimignano, Chianti Classico, and Siena

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Day 5: Bologna-The Food Tour to End All Food Tours

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Day 6: More Romaing Firenze…Really Making Our Last Day Count! The Leather School, The Central Market, and more!

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Again, this is a mere taste of all we did! There will be smaller posts later with tips for all of these amazing places to see if you head to Firenze/Toscana!

Want to follow me on the adventures to come (only 53 days until I head to Greece)?

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I love to post my favorite shots on social media, and I always have behind the scenes fun on Snapchat! I’d love to take you along on my adventures! I still have Phoenix, Greece, New Orleans, Palm Springs, maaaaybe New York City, and San Francisco planned for this year!

Happy Travels!

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